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Public or private resources?

The on-going spat between the government and the opposition over fiscal incentives has unearthed allegations of corrupt practices committed since the country transitioned into a democracy.

As the country prepares to go to the polls for the third time, we see the government and the opposition embroiled in accusing each other of misusing public resources and official functions. The Opposition has threated to move court and the government has challenged them to do so.

What appears apparent in this theatrics is that both the elected governments may have indulged in wrongful conducts that could be perceived as corruption. The people will wait for the ACC to decide on this. As for the fracas of political motive, allow the people to decide.

The issue of fiscal incentives was discussed at length in the last Parliament session but deliberations on incentives that were granted in the past without the Parliament’s approval were conveniently overlooked. The National Council pointed it out but the lower house paid no heed. The issue reached the High Court but the judgement was on the legal standing of the litigant and not on the constitutionality of fiscal incentives granted.

This disinterest shown by the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary in dissecting the fiscal incentives issue has set an undesirable precedent. When the matter is brought up, it is more as a defence than to resolve the issue. It is good that the government has decided to make public the details of incentives granted since 2008.  The people deserve correct information, not reasoning, politically motivated or not, to take informed decisions.

Another issue that needs discourse is the construction of security features at the residences of the prime minister.  The RBP’s security division is responsible for the security of the head of the government. It cannot be blamed for doing its job and nor should its proposal be used to justify the fund spent on the works.

Had our prime ministers chosen to stay at the ministers’ enclave, this issue may not have come to the fore. The security of the prime minister is a priority but to use public fund to enhance security for a private residence could be problematic, especially when the residence built for the prime minister remains unoccupied.

The government has accused the former ministers of spending public resources for similar security arrangements. How did the Royal Audit Authority that pointed out this spending did not observe similar expenses in the past? If the recent accusations are any indicator, our investigating authorities have much to do.

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